Monday, March 21, 2016

Ken Griffey, Jr Presents Major League Baseball on SNES - Retro Review

This month in history, Ken Griffey, Jr. Presents Major League Baseball released on Super Nintendo Entertainment System in North America.

In March, 1994, Ken Griffey Jr. swung his way into our homes with a simple yet exciting baseball game on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.  This is a very unique sports game in the sense that it is not fully licensed.  The developer, Software Creations, was able to secure a Major League Baseball license.  This enabled them to use real MLB parks and team names.  However, they could not get a Major League Baseball Player’s Association license.  Because of this, the rosters for each team are made up of fake names, except for Ken Griffey Jr. of course.  These fictional players do have the stats of the real players they stand in for.  Each team’s roster follows a different theme.  The Cleveland Indians, for example, are named after famous actresses such as A. Hepburn and M. Monroe.  The Seattle Mariners’ roster is filled with employees of Nintendo.   This quirky detail adds a lot of character to the game.



The most enjoyable parts of this game are the pitching and hitting mechanics.  As the pitcher, you have a lot of control over the direction of the ball.  You can even alter the curve mid throw by pressing left or right on the d-pad.  Holding down is a straight fastball and up is the changeup.  Because
there are only so many pitching options, emphasis for the pitcher is placed on speed changes.  Due to graphical limitations it is impossible to read pitches off the throw.  Batters will be kept guessing as to whether the pitch will be impossibly fast, or ridiculously slow.  That simplicity and the act of guessing what the pitch is going to be turned out to be incredibly fun! Our thumbs were sore after a full game of white knuckling the controllers.

Fielding can be incredibly frustrating.  In order to get your player to the ball you must use the field map in the bottom right corner of the screen.  Since the game’s camera follows the ball, players will see nothing but patches of green on the screen until the ball stops traveling and starts to drop.  Players will need to use the blips on the tiny map to move
into the correct position.  A small crosshair appears where the ball will land and the nearest player lights up.  This is problematic as the ball travels between players because there is latency in activating the next nearest fielder.  This made many potential outs turn into singles or doubles.  With Ken Griffey Jr. being an outfielder himself, it comes as no surprise that the outfielders in this game throw the ball like a rocket.  We were able to throw frozen ropes from the center field wall straight to the catcher’s glove. These throws would make even Vladimir Guerrero blush.
 
One tip when it comes to leading off, don’t do it.  The weakest, and most pointless, part of the game is stealing.  If you step off the bag prior to the pitch you will be thrown out.  The player controlling the pitcher is able to switch into throw out mode and dish the ball with two simple button presses.  The best way to steal, if you have the stones to try, is to go
immediately after the pitch.  If you are lucky, your opponent will either fumble over the controls and throw it to the wrong base or not react quick enough.  The bottom line, stealing is hard!  The poor stealing and fielding mechanics aren’t necessarily a bad thing though.   It keeps the focus of the game on pitching and hitting, which is an incredibly fun and frantic experience.  

Characters in the game often break the fourth wall.  They hang their heads when they strikeout looking.  They turn to the player and yell, “Come on” after they strike out swinging.  Now and then they also break the bat over their knee in anger.  This was pretty entertaining but became a tad annoying after 5 innings or so.  It would have been awesome
to have a few more character reactions. One could argue that this game was a precursor to the now defunct developer Midway’s later titles MLB Slugfest, NFL Blitz, and NHL Hitz. A note should also be made about how the players look. Many of the players look more like olympic bodybuilders then your average 3rd basemen. Let’s just say the developers were most likely big fans of Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco who at the time were both playing for the Oakland Athletics.

Ken Griffey, Jr. Presents Major League Baseball also included a home run derby for players to test their batting abilities.  With this being the most enjoyable part of the game, it might be the prefered option for playing.  Why even bother with the fielding aspect?  


The Good
  • Unrealistic arcade fun
  • Incredibly frantic pitching & batting
  • Many easter eggs including team themes and referee/player sound bites
  • Home run derby perfect when playing solo


The Bad
  • Very… very poor graphics
  • Impossible to read the pitch (if you care about that)
  • Leading off and stealing is absolutely useless
  • Fielder management is incredibly frustrating when using the mini map.
  • Sound bytes and character actions are repetitive


Final Thoughts
Ken Griffey, Jr. Presents Major League Baseball makes for a very fun arcade style baseball game.  With interesting team roster themes, licensed team names & parks, actual sound bytes from real members of the MLB, and a frantically fun pitching/hitting system, this is one game that will keep you coming back for more.  In spite of quirky fielding mechanics and the uselessness of stealing, this is a sports game that stands the test of time because it is fun.  Get a group of friends together and pop this in for a good time.

What are your memories of Jen Griffey, Jr Presents Major League Baseball? Tell us in the comments below!

Mark Ball is the founder and editor of Nintendo Love Affair. He spends his days writing, adventuring, and playing Nintendo. Although he is often disillusioned by the 21st century, he keeps his sanity by remembering and immersing himself in the days of yore. Follow him on Twitter @marksball

Matt Hauenstein is first and foremost an unabashed geek, long before the hipsters took that from us. He sees himself as someone that can comment on anything whether that be “The Golden Age of TV” or Kanye West’s fashion sense. He grew up with Nintendo, specifically the SNES & Super Mario World, and is still enamored with its charms. Matt has recently lost his way and converted to the Evil Xbox. He hopes that working with this wonderful website will rekindle his Nintendo Love Affair. Reach him on Twitter @RustyShackl4rd, (yes, that is a reference for all of you Hill Heads out there).

7 comments:

  1. Everybody loves computer game. The Super Nintendo Entertainment System is best for baseball. I like this game because it has some unique characters.

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  2. Negro League baseball made an association between African American and Latin American baseball players that is established in twentieth Century proficient baseball history. A recorded repeating theme that keeps on restricting them together today in spite of their social contrasts. An association that ought not be neglected or overlooked.

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  3. Baseballhistory, similar to all history, unquestionably is regularly changing, however a few parts of the diversion have stayed unaltered for well over a half-century.

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  4. The most pleasant parts of this amusement are the pitching and hitting mechanics. As the pitcher, you have a ton of control over the course of the ball. You can even modify the bend mid toss by squeezing left or right on the d-cushion.

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